This year’s Logan serves as the end of an era for the live-action X-Men movies, with Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart playing (respectively) Logan/Wolverine and Charles Xavier/Professor X for what might well be the final time. Jackman and Stewart’s mutant counterparts met for the first time seventeen years ago, back when Bryan Singer’s X-Men hit theaters. The James Mangold-helmed Logan will see the pair go on final adventure, as Logan – who no longer heals the way that he once did – and a 90-year old Professor X are living off the grid on the Mexico border, when they encounter a young mutant named Laura (Dafne Keen) being pursued by dangerous forces.
One still-mysterious element of the storyline for Logan is that of Caliban; the pale-skinned mutant who has appeared in the live-action X-Men universe before (most recently in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse), but is being portrayed by Stephen Merchant (Extras, Hello Ladies) for the first time in Logan. Questions about the character’s role in the movie’s narrative aside, several images of Merchant as Caliban in Logan have been released to date – and we can now add yet another to that growing collection.
It’s been reported that Caliban makes a living as a “mutant nurse” of sorts in Logan, suggesting that the character might be responsible for providing medical aid to the ailing Charles Xavier in the film. It’s not clear yet if the character will have the same mutant-tracking abilities that he’s typically possessed in the world of X-Men comic books; or rather, if that power will come into play in the movie. The latest image released of Caliban (another black and white photo, from the official wponx Instagram account) doesn’t offer any hints about that either – showing Caliban in a (bullet-hole ridden?) shack somewhere near the Mexico border, presumably.
If Caliban is already familiar with Logan and Xavier, then this suggests that the character may find himself caught in the crossfire between Logan, Xavier, Laura and the Reavers: the main villains in Logan, led by one Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and in service of one Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant). Both the Reavers and Dr. Rice are described by Mangold as being less “operatic” and more emotionally-grounded in their sensibilities, compared to certain past X-Men movie villains (think Apocalypse). That doesn’t mean they won’t be plenty nasty in their own way, as evidenced by the glimpse of Caliban being tortured by the villains (possibly for information about where Logan and the others are) in the first trailer released for Logan.
The X-Men franchise’s classic themes of social prejudice and minorities being disenfranchised and/or exploited by those in power, look to be alive and well in Logan and remain just as relevant as ever, too. Whereas Logan and Laura are better able to deal with (and deal out) greater amounts of pain and/or suffering thanks to their self-healing abilities, characters such as Xavier and Caliban should provide a reminder here of just how vulnerable mutantkind really is – giving audiences all the more reason to cheer on Wolverine and X-23, as they unleash their metal claws and fury upon their enemies, in the film.